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Straight Key Night is an annual amateur radio event that takes place every year on New Year’s Day. Actually most of the action happens on New Year’s Eve in the US, because it starts at midnight UTC. That is only 4 PM if you are on the west coast. It is not a contest; just a chance to make CW (Morse Code) contacts in an informal, low-stress way. Because participants turn off their electronic keyer and use an old-fashioned straight key, the playing field is somewhat leveled for those whose CW operating skill is rusty or not yet fully developed. Some operators also take this opportunity to turn off the modern rig altogether and fire up the older and/or simpler equipment.
An example is my old Heathkit HW-8. It is an analog CW-only rig that was built from a kit in the late ’70s. Not only does it lack the filtering of a modern rig, it has a simple direct-conversion receiver. That means that you hear the same signal twice, once on each side of the carrier, as you tune across the band. In other words, you hear both sidebands. In addition to effectively doubling the number of signals you hear cluttering up the band, you also have to make sure you are listening to the upper sideband before you attempt to answer a CQ. Otherwise you will be a kilohertz or more off frequency, and the station you are calling probably won’t even hear you.
The easy way to remember it is if you are tuning down, listen for signals that have a decreasing audio tone. If you are tuning up in frequency, listen for increasing tone frequency.
The key is my Speed-X, casting no. H15-682, made by Wm. M Nye Co. of Bellevue, WA. The year of manufacture is unknown, but it was probably made during the same time frame as my HW-8.
The Yaesu FT-840 in the first part of the video also makes an appearance in some of my other videos. I bought it new in 1996, and it is my go-to utility HF rig. I have rigs that perform better for serious use, but this is a good all-around rig that receives well, has general coverage receive and other modern features that some of my other rigs don’t have. I added an RF gain control on the back panel. The only factory options I have added are the FM board (so I can work 10M FM) and the AM filter, which is a necessity if you plan to use it for SWL, which I do. I have not added the CW narrow filter, because I have better rigs for CW.